What is a customer service job?

    A customer service job is any that requires interaction with the public or professional clients, whether that be answering queries or helping to solve problems they may be having. It's a very broad umbrella. No matter what industry you choose to work in, customer service roles are important to ensure the needs of customers are being satisfied.

    Entry into this type of job can be at various levels, from head office to the front end of the business. You'll generally be helping to develop a customer service policy for the entire company, managing a team of customer service staff and handling enquiries.

    When searching for customer service jobs, key roles include customer care manager, corporate services manager, customer relationship manager and customer operations manager. Whatever the job title, however, you can expect a typical day to include communicating effectively with customers by telephone, email, letter and face to face, investigating and solving customers' problems and complaints, issuing refunds or compensation, keeping accurate records of discussions or correspondence with customers and analysing statistics or other data to evaluate how successful your organisation is at keeping their clients informed and satisfied.

    Sometimes you'll also have to develop customer service procedures, policies and standards for your company, and meet with other managers to explore ways to improve these. It's a fast-moving and constantly evolving career, for which you'll need a thorough understanding of what your organisation offers and excellent communication skills.


    Why work in London?

    London is a popular place for people seeking customer service jobs, not least because it is filled with opportunities for people of all ages. Some 160,000 people move to the city every year, lured by the bright lights, better employment prospects, and higher wages. Although careers can be very competitive in the capital, having 'London' on your CV marks you out as a candidate of ambition and useful experience. Once you've found a job, promotions and hard work can pay off with substantial rewards.

    It's easy to see why so many customer service executives flock here to find a vacancy. Not only is the city a hub of business, tourism and commerce, offering far more chance of finding a customer-orientated role, but these jobs can often be a foot on the career ladder rather than simply an easy stop-gap.

    Those who work hard invariably play hard too. Living in London, whether that be Camden or Kensington, offers some tantalising opportunities to socialise and meet a friendly and diverse new mix of people. From parties to palace tours, museums to major sporting events, there are plenty of things to keep you busy outside of the office.


    What is good customer service?

    In a nutshell, good customer service is all about thoroughly understanding the products or services you're selling so you can help customers make an informed choice about what's best for them. In the process, you'll need to combine efficiency with a helpful, friendly manner and to treat people fairly.

    Perhaps the most important skill to have in a customer services role is being a good listener. Your job isn't to dictate what your customers should have, or even to make assumptions. Instead, it's to listen carefully to what they actually want. Concentrating on what the customer is saying and taking time to ask questions for clarity is key to excelling in this field. Close attention to the customer's tone of voice and body language can make the exercise a whole lot easier.

    That's not to say you can't be ahead of the game by identifying and anticipating their needs. Communicating regularly with them is a good way of finding out how you can help. It also makes customers feel important and appreciated. Personalising the service enhances this. Always use the customer's name and find ways to compliment them, but be sincere.

    Another asset in customer services is the ability to convey complex information as simply as possible so the people you're dealing with understand exactly what they're getting. If confused or bombarded with overly technical information, customers can get confused, impatient and angry. Take time to make sure they comprehend what your organisation can offer them.

    Knowing how to apologise is also important. When something goes wrong, say sorry. It's easy to do and customers will appreciate your honesty. Similarly, it's crucial to deal with problems immediately and keep customers informed of what's being done to solve them. Although it may go against your instinct, make it simple for customers to complain and value the criticisms they offer. It's the only way a company can learn how to improve.

    Finally, don't forget employees. They're your internal customers and need to feel just as valued as the people you deal with outside of the company. By treating them with respect, chances are they'll interact with their customers in a more courteous manner too.